Archbishop calls for passage of FOI bill-A A +A
By Bobby Lagsa
Monday, August 26, 2013
THE Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro has called for the passing of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill to promote public transparency and accountability in light of the swelling public outrage over the P10-billion “pork barrel” scam that the church called “a grave immoral act.”
In its pastoral letter issued on Sunday, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma urged everyone to “join the mobilization today to show a united stand and strong public support to run after those responsible of the malicious use of the PDAF and bring justice to all those held responsible for it, to scrap the pork barrel and create an effective method to deliver social services that are corruption free and pass the FOI bill.”
Culture of life and compassion
Ledesma said in his pastoral letter: “We are calling all citizenry to rise up for love, truth and justice to shun the evil corruption that debases human dignity and destroys the abundance of our land.”
“We are deeply indignant over the scam knowing that our people are barely catching their breath just to live in very poor conditions; and yet some of our legislators have the nerve to hoard the coffers of the people into their own pockets for self-aggrandizement,” said Ledesma.
Ledesma challenged the people by joining hands to create a new culture of life and compassion that transforms the system of governance.
“Let our faith shape our social conscience and become active collaborators in the creation of a transparent, accountable and people-oriented government that truly advances the people’s agenda for peace, security and progress,” Ledesma added.
The city police’s department will secure the Million People March against pork barrel, formally called the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), at the Gaston Park today.
The protest is multi-sectoral and interreligious gathering for people to express their disgust against corruption and politicians colluding with other government officials to steal people’s money.
The nationwide protest is also a call to action against corruption in the government especially on the House of Representatives and the Senate to which the PDAF is being distributed at about P25.2 billion pesos annually.
Cagayan de Oro City Police Director Graciano Mijares said in a text message to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that as part of the city fiesta celebration, the police and the military would secure the protest.
Mijares said that the city police would be maximizing their presence, not only because of the protest against corruption and the pork barrel system, but also primarily of the fiesta celebration.
Police Chief Inspector Lemuel Gonda, head of the city police’s operation and planning department, said that police presence have already been deployed days before the planned march.
“We will be securing their march route at the Gaston Park so people can have a secure and free area to perform their peaceful protest,” Gonda said.
Gonda added that based on the coordination with the police the key checkpoints in the city have been secured with mobile police checkpoints in barangays Puerto, Iponan, Lumbia and Indahag.
Gonda said that they are ready for the huge crowd that gathers today.
Mijares added that the police have deployed its Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team ahead of time to secure the park and its K9 team is also expected to secure the place.
Mijares also said that the Oro Assistance for Life Emergency and Rescue Team (ORO ALERT) would also be deployed.
The Roads and Traffic Administration (RTA) will close the perimeter of Gaston park except for the Gaston Street to allow traffic flow.
Mijares said that elements from the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army is also deployed and will provide additional security.
Civil society, netizens
Civic and government transparency leader Tito Mora over the page of Kagayanons Kontra sa mga Korap (KKK) said that various civic groups in the city is expected to join the protest today.
Mora said that even running groups have pledged to attend and schools are also expected to participate.
Mora added that members of the Prosecutor’s League of the Philippines also pledged to join the protest.
In social media, netizens are abuzz with comments on the protest day.
Virgil Argayoso Obsina who lived overseas posted: “Use People Power to the max to change those politicians who have abused the system for their personal benefit to the detriment of our... I might not be physically present there, yet my thoughts, prayers, & spirit will fully support your noble act to make our country a better place to live, work, visit, study, play, retire for life.”
"As long as there is PDAF, there will be corruption and systematic thievery of public funds that starts from the highest position of the land, said Wildon Barros, Chairperson of Bayan Northern Mindanao Region.
Barros added that corruption has already infested the entire government system down to the local level of bureaucracy including the Sangguniang Kabataan which was not spared from partisan and patronage politics.
Ironically, SK has become a breeding ground of future traditional politicians.
“That is why we need our leaders especially the President to lead by example. Kung ano kasi ang ginagawa ng matatanda ginagaya lang din ng mga bata”, Barros further elaborated.
Rhodora Bulosan of women's group Gabriela said: “What a shame. Instead of hearing the plea from his “boss”, the people, President Noynoy has only bared where he is siding. His true “boss” is his family and clan, friends and shooting buddy,” pointed out Bulosan.
For his part, Fr. Christopher Ablon of human rights watchdog Karapatan said that he is not surprised by the thread of deceptions made by the president since among all government officials, he is to be the most affected if ‘pork’ would be abolished.
Ablon hits PNoy's 380 billion discretionary funds, which is being use for whatever reasons it is needed.
“If only this huge amount of people’s money goes genuinely to the people’s mouth and hand, not to the pockets of corrupt officials – to alleviating poverty, to building classrooms, to pump prime public health system and to provide much needed social services how helpful it would turn out to be”, said Fr. Ablon.
Meanwhile, Richard Colao of farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Kmp), is demanding an explanation from Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and of Rep. Rolando Uy (from the 1st and 2nd district of Cagayan de Oro) as their names had been mentioned in the alleged Napoles’ transactions. Among the two, Rodriguez is vocal in his position favoring the retention of the ‘pork’.
“The farmers and fisher folks under our banner join the broad Filipino majority to abolish the pork barrel system. May it be in the parliament of the streets, in the halls of Congress or even to another people power to change the corrupt and unjust system,” Colao said. (With a report from Grace Cantal-Albasin)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 26, 2013.